How to write a book review

Book reviewing is almost certainly one of the most important marketing strategies for any publisher or book seller. It is well known that Authors receive all types of reviews with open arms, even the negative ones. Writers spend a lifetime perfecting their work, and any kind of criticism that can improve their writing skills, will always be greatly received.

As a big book reader myself, book reviews play an important role in when I am choosing my next read. We always sit up and pay attention to the books that find themselves plastered all over the book blogs and media sites when shortlisted for the numerous book awards held every year. We want to know what’s so special about these books, and it is the reviews that will ultimately help readers decide which ones will appeal to their tastes.

So what makes a great book review? Everyone will have differing opinions on what makes a good review for them. For me, I want complete personalisation of the review from the readers perspective, I want to know how the book made you feel during and long after reading it, I want to feel the passion you had for the book, or the lack of it.

I have never been put off a book by a negative review, for example you may have read a thriller that you absolutely loathed, and it just didn’t do it for you. Whereis I love thrillers, and your description alone and your hate for gore and fear would most likely draw me to it.

The most important thing is for your review to be completely honest, unbiased, and written in your own words.

Grab a pen and notepad and take notes while you are reading.

Catch your readers attention

In the first few lines and in the reviews title try to grab the readers attention by the use of a favourite quote from the book, or ask a question such as ‘Is this the greatest love story of all time?’ or ‘Could there possibly be any worse stories than this one?’

Describe the overall story of the book and its theme

In the first few sentences of your review, describe the story and the theme of the book. You can easily copy some text from the book to demonstrate part of the overall story. Describe to the reader the main characters and their purposes within the story, how are these characters connected to one another? Are they married? Siblings? or are they two separate characters whose own stories come together?

Be careful when you are describing the book not to reveal any plots or spoilers. Be brief in your detailing of where the story takes us. And of course stay clear of the ending, no one wants an ending before the story has even begun.

Describe the style of writing that the author shows throughout the book, is it narrative or persuasive? is the story told flowingly in terms of one day to the next or does it jump to past timelines?

Personal views

The most important part of your review, this is what we all came for, and what you wanted us to hear. This is your own personal view, thoughts and feelings towards the story. This is your opportunity to discuss your likes and dislikes, and why you have come to those conclusions.

Here are some questions that you can ask yourself and put these all together to create your review:

  • Which characters did you connect with and why?
  • Which characters did you dislike, and what made you feel that way towards them.
  • Did you feel the characters fitted well to the story? where they key players? or did you feel some characters brought nothing?
  • Did the characters feel real to you? or were their descriptions and actions too far fetched?
  • Did the story keep you enthralled? or was it boring and dull?
  • Which part of the book did you enjoy the most? and why?
  • Did the book bring out any emotions in you? Was the story sad, funny, romantic?
  • Was the book a page turner? or would you have happily stopped without finishing? did you finish?

Your summary of the book and of your review

End your review by advising the reader as to which audience you feel the book would be aimed at. And which type of reader you feel would enjoy this book and which you feel wouldn’t. Let us know your overall response to the book? was it excellent, good or not worth the time? You could even advice on which books you see as similar to this one.

And finally…

Would you recommend this book from your own personal experience?

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